On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn't stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It's up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?
It took me a long time to get into this book. The beginning didn't hook me, Phee seemed a bit too reckless and immature for my taste and the love triangle was annoying. Really annoying. Lots of waffling emotions and deep introspective thought analyses. ugh. And did anyone else just feel bad for the loser of the love triangle? I mean, like, throughout the entire book? I felt like the poor guy was just shuffled to the side all the time. He lacked any depth at all since, really, we only saw him when/how Phee dictated he would be around.
Once the story evolved into a political/corporate story with intrigue and spying and stuff, it got really interesting. The plot was very well thought-out in that respect and I enjoyed all the plotting and planning. It was smart.
But it didn't overshadow the lackluster writing and borrowed concepts. I mean, this entire novel was basically Speed Racer with a girl main character. I can't think of a single major difference. I'm really trying to think of major difference. Maybe the love triangle could be thought of as the major difference but I wish that hadn't been in there at all. Why do YA authors feel like they must put love triangles in YA books? This book actually would have been BETTER if the poor, shunted third member of the love triangle had been a different character entirely; Why wasn't he a brother? Or the strictly platonic best friend? Or gay? Or any number of things that would have prohibited any notion of a love triangle? It pulled me from the story and I was more annoyed than anything. Actually, I felt more sympathy for him than for Phee. Phee annoyed. I definitely see the potential for more angsty pining and love-triangle drama in the second book since this book ended the cliffhanger way it did. But I'm still annoyed.
Another positive in this book was the racing. And it wasn't even so much the racing itself as much as it was the way Martin portrayed Phee while racing. I loved being in her head for those moments; The way her adrenaline was written, her inherent need to race, the calm before the race and all that. So well done. Loved those moments.
Phee was likeable enough as a character. I guess. But I didn't like her as much as I could have. I would have appreciated more humor; This book was Very Serious. I would appreciated less introspective whining; So much unnecessary drama. I would have appreciated smarter actions on her part, a little bit of subtlety, maybe. She was so very in-your-face blunt and easy-to-read. The worst possible spy. The worst possible secret-keeper. But I guess that was just her character. Wasn't a huge fan.
By all means, if you're into post-apocalyptic stories with a Speed Racer/Fast and Furious spin (maybe even some Mad Max minus any violence whatsoever), obtain and read this book. You may like it much more than I do. But I wouldn't recommend you own it until you read it first and decide for yourself.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Language: Mild (it's all irritating new-world slang cursing. So no real curse words. Just annoying rusting made-up foul language--Actually in a way I appreciate the non-use of bad words but the fake cursing annoys me. If you're gonna say it, just say it)
Violence: Mild (if any)
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate (though it is generally frowned-upon by the characters in the book)